ZERO TO THREE works to ensure that babies and toddlers benefit from the early connections that are critical to their well-being and development.

Our Achievements



  • The National Center for Clinical Infant Programs is founded by internationally renowned leaders in the fields of medicine, mental health, social science research, child development and community leadership interested in advancing the healthy development of infants, toddlers and families

  • Reginald Lourie, MD, serves as the organization’s first Board Chairman

  • The organization is launched with a $12,000 gift, in-kind contributions from the National Institute of Mental Health’s Clinical Unit and one staff member—Emily Fenichel—working from her home


  • The National Center for Clinical Infant Programs is incorporated, bylaws are adopted and the Board President is designated as CEO

  • Eleanor Szanton, PhD, is hired as first Executive Director

  • Stanley Greenspan, MD, is elected the first President of the Board


  • The first National Training Institute (NTI) is held


  • In September 1980, the ZERO TO THREE Journal, then called Zero to Three: Bulletin of the National Center for Clinical Infant Programs was born (Volume 1, Number 1)

  • The organization launched Zero to Three “to reach many more of the thousands of researchers and practitioners, from a wide range of professional disciplines, who are aiming, as we are, toward a common goal—working with infants and their parents to help every child achieve the healthiest possible growth and development” (Lourie, 1980)

  • The Fellowship Program begins with the goal to “infuse youth into the organization” and “provide a new cadre of leaders for the field”

  • Organizational priorities focus on training and publications for the community of professionals represented in the founding and development of the organization

  • Sally Provence, MD, begins term as Board President in 1985

  • T. Berry Brazelton, MD, begins serving as Board President in 1988



  • Kathryn Barnard, RN, PhD, is elected Board President


  • Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood (DC:0-3), a 10-year effort, is published; it presents state-of-the-art approaches to diagnosis and treatment planning for young children with emotional and developmental disorders
  • The organization’s Executive Director retires; Carol Berman and Emily Fenichel serve as Acting Directors
  • Jeree Pawl, PhD, elected to Board Presidency


  • Matthew Melmed, JD, accepts the position of Executive Director in January

  • Board of Directors bylaws are revised to establish the Executive Director as organizational CEO

  • The organization has a staff of 16 based in Washington, D.C., offices

  • The first major federal contract for the organization is secured: Early Head Start Center for Quality Program Design (precursor of the Early Head Start National Resource Center); in succeeding years, the organization secures five competitive contracts to continue to operate the EHSNRC


  • ZERO TO THREE’s website is launched at www.zerotothree.org; The New York Times rates it highly, referring to it as the “Mega-Bran Flakes” site compared to the “Sugar Toasties” of other parenting sites

  • New Visions for the Developmental Assessment of Infants and Young Children, is released. This book redefines useful and accurate assessments for infants or toddlers; The Benchmark publication, Caring for Infants and Toddlers in Groups: Developmentally Appropriate Practice, a guide to high-quality infant-toddler child care practices, is also published

  • An official name change takes place: The National Center for Clinical Infant Programs becomes ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families


  • ZERO TO THREE’s first National Poll of Parents of Infants & Toddlers is released at the first White House Conference on Early Development; the organization uses this as a key planning tool

  • Through a partnership with Kellogg, ZERO TO THREE messages for parents are placed on 35 million packages of Rice Krispies cereal

  • Kyle Pruett, MD, is elected Board President


  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Irving Harris provide funds to re-establish the fellowship program as the new Leadership Development Initiative

  • The Magic of Everyday Moments Campaign, a parent education effort, launched with Johnson & Johnson

  • The ZERO TO THREE 20th Anniversary Gala is held at the Kennedy Center featuring First Lady Hillary Clinton and honoring Senators Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd, Jim Jeffords and John Kerry

  • Staff size is 43


  • The Learning and Growing Together with Families project, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, develops written and video materials to promote the prevention of child abuse; this effort leads to other Duke-supported efforts, including Partnering With Parents and State Partnerships for Prevention



  • The ZERO TO THREE Policy Center is formally established. Today, the Policy Center is the leading national voice for infants and toddlers and is the source of a comprehensive infant/family policy agenda for federal, state and community policymakers and advocates.

  • The Second ZERO TO THREE National Parent Poll is released on The Oprah Winfrey Show

  • Sam Meisels, EdD, elected to Presidency of the Board


  • The Office of Child Care at the Department of Health and Human Services selects ZERO TO THREE to operate the National Infant Toddler Child Care Initiative to provide guidance and support to state child care administrators in policy planning and program design

  • Little Listeners in an Uncertain World is published to help parents understand the impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the emotional life of infants and toddlers

  • Staff size is at 82


  • The ZERO TO THREE PRESS is established, and begins publishing books and manuals

  • The Literacy, Learning and Life project is undertaken in Alexandria, Va., with support from the U.S. Department of Education, to design and test social-emotional-based professional development approaches on early literacy for child care center staff.


  • The ZERO TO THREE 25th Anniversary Gala is held at the Kennedy Center, during which Senator Patty Murray is honored for her leadership

  • “Hearts and Minds: A Dialogue with the Experts” a private briefing by members of the Board and leading foundations and philanthropists, is held in Washington, DC.

  • In partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Court Teams for Maltreated Infants and Toddlers is conceptualized

  • Joy Osofsky, PhD, is elected Board President


  • The ZERO TO THREE Western Regional Office is established in Los Angeles with the support of Richard and Lezlie Atlas

  • ZERO TO THREE has a staff of 88


  • DC:0-3R, the revision of the original diagnostic classification manual, is released to wide acclaim

  • The first Court Teams for Maltreated Infants and Toddlers are established in Fort Bend, Tex.; Hattiesburg, Miss.; and Des Moines, Iowa. Today, the initiative operates in multiple sites around the country.

  • Operation Parenting Edge launched with the U.S. Marine Corps to support a selected number of Early Head Start programs to better serve the needs of infants and toddlers of deployed families


  • Coming Together Around Military Families is launched with private funds to create materials and professional training to support the needs of infants and toddlers of deployed parents

  • ZERO TO THREE staff design and provide training support for Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success initiative

  • Partnership with Children’s Television Workshop leads to the creation of Sesame Beginnings DVD series for parents and their infants and toddlers

  • The Policy Center launches the ZERO TO THREE Policy Network, which now has more than 40,000 members

  • Alicia Lieberman, PhD, elected to Board Presidency


  • Project CLICK (Cradling Literacy in Children in Kentucky) launches in partnership with Save the Children after securing a highly competitive U.S. Department of Education grant; the grant includes a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of the approach

  • Work to support military families grows with investments by other private sources and the Department of Defense


  • Cheryl Polk is elected Board President



  • Little Kids, Big Questions, a podcast series, is released; hosted by ZTT Board member Ann Pleshette Murphy, each of the 12 podcasts features an interview with an expert on early childhood development


  • ZERO TO THREE begins partnership with a Chinese company to assist with the development of parenting resources to help parents in China better understand how to connect with and care for their infants and toddlers

  • Ann Pleshette Murphy elected Board President


  • ZERO TO THREE hosts its first virtual baby rally event, #Rally4Babies; through publicity and social media outreach, more than 47,000 people sign a petition to ask Congress and the President to invest in early childhood education

  • ZERO TO THREE gains a new initiative, Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health); Project LAUNCH is a state, tribal and community-based focal point for early childhood systems development funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)


  • ZERO TO THREE releases a new report connecting research and appropriate use of screen media with young children; Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight receives national attention for departing from the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics by not advising parents to avoid screen time

  • ZERO TO THREE launches three new initiatives: The Quality Improvement Center for Research-Based Infant-Toddler Court Teams; The Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships Training and TA National Center; and the Tribal Home Visiting Programmatic TA Center

  • ZERO TO THREE assumes responsibility for HealthySteps, a national program designed to improve the delivery of developmental and behavioral services to young children through primary pediatric care; ZERO TO THREE helped conceptualize and pilot this program in 1995


  • ZERO TO THREE expands operations and is awarded government grants to establish new national centers with various partners; these new centers include Head Start National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations; National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning; and National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness

  • Ross Thompson, PhD, becomes Board President

  • Staff size is 160